Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Supporting Local Craftswomen

A short drive south of Amman in the town of Iraq Al-Amir, five women spend their days elbow-deep in a vat of slurry. They are part of a women’s cooperative begun in 1995 that creates handmade paper and provides employment to local women. The Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Cooperative has around 36 members who make the paper, as well as soap and pottery.

Sharifa Al Muhammad who has been making paper for 15 years explained the long process involved in creating each piece of paper. First the women collect local twigs, leaves, grasses and reeds. Then they soak the plants for 5 days to make a pulp. They adjust the thickness of their mixture of pulp and water based on the size of the paper they want to make. They strain water from the fibers using wooden moulds with screens and press the paper with a board to drain the water. The new paper is then laid in the sun to dry. In the intense Jordanian sun this can take as little as one day in the summer! 

While some people prefer the natural look of paper without dyes, Sharifa said that they also dye the paper to add color for children. For an elegant look they add decorative leaves and flowers that are woven into the paper itself!

We are excited to partner with the women of Iraq Al-Amir by purchasing some of their handmade paper for our new card designs and by selling some of their products in our showroom. It is a small way that we can support the work that they do making beautiful handmade paper.

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